Dulwich Prep School SHUTS after ‘several’ pupils returned from coronavirus hotspots feeling ill

One of Britain’s most prestigious private schools is shut today after two students who visited coronavirus-hit countries over half term fell ill – with the headteacher blaming NHS delays for forcing her hand, it was revealed today. 

The £19,000-a-year Dulwich Prep in south London has been closed down until Monday at the earliest after ‘several’ children in different parts of the school became unwell this week after foreign holidays. 

It came as MailOnline revealed that private schools are being urged not to overreact to the coronavirus crisis because parents will demand their fees back if children miss class.

Dulwich Prep’s headteacher Louise Davidson told parents in a letter today that NHS delays meant the school had to be closed while they wait for the results of coronavirus tests.

Mrs Davidson refused to say the countries they visited on holiday but said: ‘Unrelated pupils from different sections of school have returned after half term having been on holiday. They were healthy when they returned but have since become unwell.

‘The families have contacted NHS 111, self-isolated and are awaiting the results of tests. NHS 111 have been inundated with calls since the half term break and the delay our families have had in accessing medical help has influenced our decision’. 

She added: ‘If either of our pupils test positive we will remain closed for a longer period while the school undergoes a full deep clean’.

Many of Britain’s independent schools ran ski trips over half term and several chose the Alps in Italy – Europe’s coronavirus epicentre where 12 people have died in the week. 

Last night Harrow School, which charges £13,925-a-term for boarders, sent home two student who had been in Italy over half term.

An email sent to house masters and students, seen by MailOnline, says:  ‘Two boys have been asked to return home for a short time. They had travelled together in northern Italy during half-term and one of the presented yesterday with symptoms associated with the coronavirus. This is a purely a precautionary measure. It is not a confirmed case at the school’.  

The £19,000-a-year Dulwich Prep in south London has been closed down until Monday at the earliest after ‘several’ children in different parts of the school became unwell this week after foreign holidays.

Dulwich Prep's headteacher Louise Davidson told parents in a letter today that NHS delays meant the school had to be closed while they wait for the results of coronavirus tests

Dulwich Prep’s headteacher Louise Davidson told parents in a letter today that NHS delays meant the school had to be closed while they wait for the results of coronavirus tests

Harrow School has sent this email to staff and students after two boys were sent home last night after one fell ill following a half-term trip to Italy. They say it is a precaution - not a confirmed case

Harrow School has sent this email to staff and students after two boys were sent home last night after one fell ill following a half-term trip to Italy. They say it is a precaution – not a confirmed case

Private schools typically charge more than £100 per day per pupil, meaning parents could be losing out and the Independent Schools Association [ISA] says parents at its 500-plus member schools are likely to ask for a refund if their child’s education is disrupted.

Neil Roskilly, Chief Executive of the ISA told MailOnline: ‘Closing schools is beyond what is required at the moment in most cases although individual schools have to make those decisions independently.

‘There is a concern that parents might start asking for money back if their children miss too much school, although we haven’t seen this happening yet. We advise schools to follow the advice of Public Health England.’   

The headteacher at Prince George and Princess Charlotte‘s £19,000-a-year prep school, Thomas’s Battersea, is among the dozens who have shut or sent pupils home over infection fears after children and staff returned from virus-hit parts of the world.

The fee-paying Cransley School in Northwich, Cheshire, is shut all week after 34 pupils and staff skied in Lombardy last week with headmaster Richard Pollock ‘regardless’ of official advice from the Government that it isn’t necessary.

Princess Charlotte and Prince George's school, Thomas's Battersea, has sent students home in case they have coronavirus which could see parents demanding back £1,000-plus in fees per child

Princess Charlotte and Prince George’s school, Thomas’s Battersea, has sent students home in case they have coronavirus which could see parents demanding back £1,000-plus in fees per child

The £11,658-a-year Cransley School, a private school in Northwich, Cheshire (pictured) announced it will be closed for the rest of the week because of coronavirus fears - despite a Government warning to stay open

The £11,658-a-year Cransley School, a private school in Northwich, Cheshire (pictured) announced it will be closed for the rest of the week because of coronavirus fears – despite a Government warning to stay open

At least 13 schools have shut and 24 more have sent students or staff home after ski trips to Italy or half-term holidays to other hotspots

At least 13 schools have shut and 24 more have sent students or staff home after ski trips to Italy or half-term holidays to other hotspots

Cransley School charges its parents up to £11,658-a-year – so two weeks in isolation would cost parents approaching £900 in lost fees.

Primary school in Derbyshire closes after a ‘confirmed coronavirus’ case 

The school's head Anthony Tierney was on site early this morning to deal with concerned parents. He confirmed that the gates would remain closed for the day. Pictured, the message that was sent to parents

The school’s head Anthony Tierney was on site early this morning to deal with concerned parents. He confirmed that the gates would remain closed for the day. Pictured, the message that was sent to parents

A British primary school has today closed for a deep clean after a headteacher claimed a parent caught the killer coronavirus that has infected more than 82,000 people as it continues to sweep the world. 

Burbage Primary School in Buxton, Derbyshire, told parents and carers about the case last night. However, health chiefs have yet to confirm if it is correct. 

Only 15 cases have been confirmed on British soil currently – all of them have been linked to the Far East and nobody has caught the illness in the UK.

The decision to close Burbage Primary School had been taken as a ‘precautionary measure’, according to a WhatsApp message sent to parents by headteacher Anthony Tierney.

The message read: ‘Dear parents and carers, due to a confirmed case of coronavirus amongst our parent population, Burbage Primary School will be CLOSED tomorrow (Thursday 27 February 2020) as a precautionary measure and to enable a deep clean to be completed. A further update will be shared tomorrow. Thank you.’ 

There are now dozens of schools shutting or sending pupils home over infection fears – even when nobody is showing any symptoms.

At least 13 shut this week, with six around the UK remaining shut until next week, because in many cases after pupils returned from skiing trips to northern Italy.

Another three will not reopen until tomorrow at the earliest, and at least 24 sent some pupils home as a precaution.

The refusal to let healthy children return to classes comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons yesterday there was ‘no need to close the school’ or send children home in most cases.

On Tuesday, at least 18 schools sent pupils home as staff struggled to reconcile official advice with fears that some may have caught the virus on half-term ski trips.

The news came as it emerged last night that four children at Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s school were in self-isolation over fears that they could have been exposed to coronavirus.

The pupils from the private London prep school Thomas’s Battersea are being kept at home while they await test results.

Two are said to have returned from a trip to northern Italy, where there has been a major outbreak of the disease. One reportedly has a cough and the other has a fever.

The other two have not visited areas seriously affected by coronavirus, which is formally called Covid-19, but have similar symptoms. There is no suggestion that George, six, or Charlotte, four, have been exposed to the disease.

A school spokesman told the Spanish news website El Confidencial: ‘We are taking the potential risks connected with the spread of Covid-19 very seriously and are following government guidance to the letter around both prevention against infection and in dealing with cases where staff or pupils are suspected of being exposed to the virus or display any symptoms. We have a very small number of pupils who have been tested and these individuals are, as per Government advice, remaining at home pending their test results.’

Burbage Primary School (main) in Buxton, Derbyshire, is shut after telling parents they have a confirmed case

Burbage Primary School (main) in Buxton, Derbyshire, is shut after telling parents they have a confirmed case

Kensington Palace declined to comment last night.

WHERE ARE THE SCHOOLS THAT HAVE BEEN GRIPPED BY CORONAVIRUS FEARS AFTER SKI TRIPS TO NORTHERN ITALY? 

Closed

  1. Lutton St Nicholas primary school in Lincolnshire
  2. Gedney Church End primary school
  3. St Christopher’s C of E High School in Accrington 
  4. Trinity Catholic College in Middlesbrough 
  5. Cransley School in Northwich, Cheshire
  6. The Brine Leas Academy sixth form in Cheshire 
  7. William Martin Junior and Infant School in Essex
  8. Tudor Grange Academy Kingshurst, Birmingham 
  9. The ContinU Plus Academy in Kidderminster 
  10. Lime Academy Watergall in Bretton, Peterborough
  11. Shepeau Stow Primary School, in Spalding 
  12. St Peter’s Church of England Middle School, Old Windsor 
  13. Archbishop Temple School, Preston 

Pupils sent home 

  1. Salendine Nook High School, Huddersfield
  2. Newquay Tretherras
  3. The Holt School, Wokingham
  4. Cambridge House Grammar School, County Antrim
  5. Penair School, Truro
  6. Torquay Boys’ Grammar School
  7. Haverfordwest High School, Pembrokeshire
  8. Hall Cross Academy, Doncaster
  9. Sandbach High School, Cheshire
  10. The Crispin School, Somerset
  11. Cleeve Park School, London (Sidcup)
  12. Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School in West Derby
  13. Woodrush High School in Wythall, Birmingham
  14. Guernsey Grammar School
  15. Sydney Russel School in Dagenham
  16. Ysgol Friars School in Bangor, Wales
  17. Banbridge Academy in Northern Ireland
  18. Limavady Grammar School in Northern Ireland 
  19. Ely College in Cambridgeshire
  20. Thomas’s Battersea 
  21. Harrow School 

On the subject of whether schools should shut, Mr Hancock said: ‘If anyone has been in contact with a suspected case in a childcare or an educational setting, no special measures are required while test results are awaited. There is no need to close the school or send other students or staff home.’

He said pupils awaiting coronavirus test results would be ‘advised individually about returning to education’ if they test negative.

‘In most cases, closure… will be unnecessary, but this will be a local decision based on various factors, including professional advice,’ he added. ‘The message that we do not have a policy of blanket school closures is important. Unless there is specific professional advice, or until there is a positive test, schools should stay open.’

Warning against mass panic, Mr Hancock said: ‘Overreaction has its costs, too, economic and social, and so we have to keep the public safe – but we also need to act in a way that’s proportionate.’

However, many parents were more concerned yesterday that infection could have spread before pupils who returned from Italy were sent home. Among the schools closed all week is Trinity Catholic College in Middlesbrough, where a spokesman said a ‘deep clean’ lasting several days was booked before the Mr Hancock’s announcement.

Andy Byles, whose Year 8 son went on a school ski trip to Verona at half-term, said: ‘From Sunday night my wife was told kids had to go to school. Thirty or so went on Monday. They should not have been at school, in my opinion.’

Archbishop Temple School in Preston, Lancashire, shut at noon yesterday and will not reopen until Monday – even though pupils returning from a ski trip did not visit a locked-down area of Italy.

Tudor Grange Academy in Kingshurst, Birmingham, said it would be shut until tomorrow at the earliest for a deep clean after six pupils who had been on a ski trip to Italy self-isolated when they developed flu-like symptoms.

Gedney Church End Primary School in Lincolnshire said it would not reopen until tomorrow while it was deep-cleaned, citing ‘a potential connection’ to coronavirus.

Cransley School in Northwich, Cheshire, is shut all week after 34 pupils and staff skied in Lombardy last week. Head master Richard Pollock said the decision was taken ‘regardless’ of official advice.

In addition, at least 24 schools sent some pupils home yesterday over coronavirus fears.

By contrast, St Christopher’s CofE High School in Accrington, Lancashire – where pupils spent half-term skiing in Italy’s Aosta Valley – was due to reopen today following ‘a thorough clean’.

Also open as normal today after pupils were sent home on Tuesday are Sandbach High School and Brine Leas School in Cheshire.

Paul Cosford, medical director of Public Health England, told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Our general advice is not to close schools.’

He reiterated that anyone who had been in a town locked down by Italian authorities should self-isolate. But those who had been to other northern regions of the country should carry on as normal unless they show symptoms.

 



Iran’s vice president and spokeswoman for 1979 hostage-takers infected with coronavirus 

Iran’s vice president and spokeswoman for 1979 hostage-takers is infected with coronavirus, state media reveals 

A state-owned newspaper in Iran says Masoumeh Ebtekar, a vice president in the Islamic Republic and a spokeswoman for the 1979 hostage-takers, has the new coronavirus.

The report came from the English-language IRAN daily newspaper via its Twitter account.

Ebtekar was known during the hostage crisis as ‘Mary’.

 



Coronavirus: UK families stockpile nappies, food and medicine

Britons are panic buying nappies, toilet roll, soup, tinned fruit, pet food, medicine, bottled water, wine and even setting up ‘isolation’ rooms at home in case coronavirus shuts down their communities, it was revealed today.

Families are stockpiling reserves to ensure their homes are ‘fit for a pandemic’ with some purchasing new chest freezers to fill with food and portable camp toilets to avoid sharing a loo if a relative tests positive for the killer virus.

A shortage of germ-killing antibacterial gel has seen a spurt in sales of surgical spirit on eBay and Amazon by people desperate to sanatise their hands, with Boots sold out online today.

On social media one panicked Briton revealed that they have turned one small room in their house into an ‘isolation zone’ equipped with cooking equipment, bedding and food if they have to be in quarantine for a fortnight. 

Another Mumsnet user said: ‘I’ve cleaned and prepped the farm caravan so if needed it could be an isolation suite. Useful place to store surplus supplies, tinned food etc as well’.

Others are drawing up spreadsheets of the items they need to buy to last them weeks or months in self-isolation.

Professor Ratula Chakraborty, professor of business management at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said: ‘The prospect of whole towns being in lockdown and shops closed is heightening the fear and stockpiling may become rife’. 

Britons have admitted stockpiling items ranging from loo roll and tinned food to new freezers and toilets because of coronavirus

This Mumsnet user revealed her stockpiling shopping list on a thread called: 'Prepping for a pandemic', which included olive oil, dips, crackers, chocolate and printer paper

This Mumsnet user revealed her stockpiling shopping list on a thread called: ‘Prepping for a pandemic’, which included olive oil, dips, crackers, chocolate and printer paper

In a thread on coronavirus this user sent out her 'dear husband' to pick a large chest freezer to store more food

In a thread on coronavirus this user sent out her ‘dear husband’ to pick a large chest freezer to store more food

This user set out a plan for 'a house fit for a pandemic' once all the stockpiling is up to date

This user set out a plan for ‘a house fit for a pandemic’ once all the stockpiling is up to date

Experts believe the stockpiling of medicine and food in family homes ‘may become rife’ as people grow increasingly concerned about coronavirus disrupting British life.

Professor Chakraborty, said: ‘One big opportunity for the supermarkets may be home delivery, where online grocery retailers could see a bonanza as consumers shy away from visiting stores and instead prefer to shop from the safety of their own homes.

‘There is no immediate need to stockpile or panic buy any goods, but people should be prepared to help out and shop for vulnerable relatives and friends who are elderly or have underlying conditions which places them at a greater risk of developing severe symptoms if the coronavirus spreads. 

In one discussion on Mumsnet, a poster asked if they were being unreasonable ‘to be considering a small stockpile or supplies because of corona?’

They added: ‘Reading about the Italian villages that have been put on lockdown and families can’t leave their homes has got me thinking…Italy isn’t a million miles away. It’s not a third world country. If it’s happened there…’

Almost 200 people responded to the message, with most saying they are also stockpiling tinned goods, toilet rolls and other supplies.

Boots is sold out of surgical spirit online, which people are using as an alternative to antibacterial hand gel, which is being rationed by some shops

Boots is sold out of surgical spirit online, which people are using as an alternative to antibacterial hand gel, which is being rationed by some shops

This user has confired she is buying powdered egg for baking in case fresh ones become hard to come by

This user has confired she is buying powdered egg for baking in case fresh ones become hard to come by

'Julie' was looking to order a camp toilet for at home. Some are concerned about sharing toilets at home if someone falls ill

‘Julie’ was looking to order a camp toilet for at home. Some are concerned about sharing toilets at home if someone falls ill

Some have revealed they are building spreedsheets with lists of items they have bought, use by dates and meal plans

Some have revealed they are building spreedsheets with lists of items they have bought, use by dates and meal plans

One said they were ‘filling the cupboard with soup, tomatoes, tinned fruit, flour, crackers etc in advance.

‘I’ll still eat them all, but they last for months anyway, and when people are surging into supermarkets stripping the shelves I won’t be adding to the masses worried they won’t have enough. I’ll be out of the way and not contributing to shortages.’  

On Tuesday, an official at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention warned of the potential for ‘severe’ disruption to daily life in the event of coronavirus becoming a pandemic.

Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said there was a need for ‘new strategies’.

The CDC has been urging businesses, schools and families to prepare for a possible outbreak of Covid-19 in the US, including potentially allowing employees to work from home and internet-based lessons.

In the UK, England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has said school closures could occur if the virus spreads, while people could be asked to stay at home with their families.

 



Europe battles to contain coronavirus as Germany warns of ‘start of an epidemic’

Germany and France have warned of the ‘start of an epidemic’ as Europe scrambles to contain a coronavirus outbreak spreading from Italy across the continent.  

Denmark, Switzerland, Romania, North Macedonia and the city of Athens have all confirmed their first virus cases in the last two days – all of them linked to Italy. 

Supermarket shelves were left empty in Italy and Romania as panicking shoppers rushed to prepare for a quarantine. 

In Germany, hundreds of people were quarantined in their homes today amid fears that a critically sick local patient could have infected countless others. 

The man had attended Carnival parties, visited the Netherlands and gone for an unrelated hospital check-up in the days before he was taken seriously ill.  

A soldier in the German air force has also tested positive after having contact with the man, whose wife works at a kindergarten and also has the virus. 

Separately, a train was stopped for around two hours in Germany on Wednesday with a fleet of emergency workers descending on a remote station after a passenger returning from Italy showed possible virus symptoms on board. 

The country’s health minister Jens Spahn warned yesterday that ‘we are at the beginning of a coronavirus epidemic in Germany’. 

French president Emmanuel Macron echoed those fears today, declaring that ‘we are facing an epidemic’.  

Alarm: A fleet of emergency workers and a halted train at Idar-Oberstein station in Germany yesterday after a passenger showed possible virus symptoms 

Empty shelves: Supermarkets were stripped of supplies in Romania (pictured) as panic-buying shoppers rushed to prepare for a coronavirus quarantine

Empty shelves: Supermarkets were stripped of supplies in Romania (pictured) as panic-buying shoppers rushed to prepare for a coronavirus quarantine 

In Tenerife, a staff member wearing a mask cleans the swimming pool of the H10 Costa Adeje Palace today after guests were told they are facing a two-week lockdown

In Tenerife, a staff member wearing a mask cleans the swimming pool of the H10 Costa Adeje Palace today after guests were told they are facing a two-week lockdown 

A shopper wearing a protective face mask walks through a street market in Milan this morning

A shopper wearing a protective face mask walks through a street market in Milan this morning

A German primary school in Gangelt near the Dutch border is closed today (pictured) after a woman who works at a local kindergarten was infected along with her husband

A German primary school in Gangelt near the Dutch border is closed today (pictured) after a woman who works at a local kindergarten was infected along with her husband 

French president Emmanuel Macron visits medical staff at the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris today, where he said the country was facing an 'epidemic'

French president Emmanuel Macron visits medical staff at the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris today, where he said the country was facing an ‘epidemic’

A map showing the latest coronavirus figures in Europe, with the outbreak centred in Italy but rapidly spreading out across the continent

A map showing the latest coronavirus figures in Europe, with the outbreak centred in Italy but rapidly spreading out across the continent 

German patient has links to hospitals, carnivals, Holland, a kindergarten and the air force  

A German virus patient who is in a serious condition in hospital could have infected countless others, it is feared. 

The 47-year-old man from Gangelt near the Dutch border had been at Carnival parties and an unrelated hospital check-up in Cologne in the days before he was isolated.

He and his wife attended carnival celebrations in the village of Langbroich and also went on a short trip to the Netherlands. 

Carnival revellers in Langbroich are now facing a two-week quarantine while Dutch authorities fear he could spark the country’s first outbreak. 

The head of Cologne’s health department said the man had come into contact with 41 people at the hospital. 

They include several doctors and nurses, at least one of whom is showing symptoms of illness. 

In addition, a soldier in the German air force who had contact with the man has also tested positive for coronavirus, the head of a military hospital in Koblenz said. 

On top of that, the man’s wife – who works in a kindergarten – has also tested positive for the virus. 

Schools and kindergartens in the area are remaining shut until Monday, said Stephan Pusch, who heads the local administration. 

The man is now in a serious condition in hospital in Düsseldorf and breathing with a respirator, German media says. 

The three cases including the air force soldier bring the German total to 21.  

Officials have urged people with possible symptoms of illness to stay at home and contact their doctors by phone.  

‘We are facing a crisis, an epidemic that is coming,’ Macron said while visiting staff at the La Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris today.

‘We know that we’re only at the beginning… we’re going to try with all our caretakers to make the right decisions.

‘You had a case here… I know this affected many of your teams,’ he said, after a 60-year-old teacher who had not travelled to an outbreak hotspot died at the hospital on Tuesday. 

Spahn, the German health minister, said today that the country had plans in place for a pandemic but warned that ‘we don’t practise them often enough in this country’.  

In another sign of the widespread concern today, the Pope cancelled an event at a Rome basilica after feeling sick. 

The 83-year-old pontiff was seen coughing and blowing his nose during the Ash Wednesday Mass yesterday when he shook hands with the faithful and voiced his sympathy with virus patients. 

There was no word from the Vatican about the nature of his illness, except to say that he was staying in his residence because of a ‘slight indisposition’. 

Denmark confirmed its first case of the virus early today, saying a man who returned from a skiing trip in northern Italy had tested positive. 

‘The man who came back from a skiing trip with his wife and son on February 24 has been suffering since then from a cough and a temperature,’ Denmark’s public health agency said.

‘The man tested positive, but the results of his wife and son are negative,’ it said.

The man is relatively well and has returned to his home, where he remains in isolation with his family, officials say.

The virus has also spread from Italy to Switzerland, where a man in his 70s from the Italian-speaking region of Ticino has been taken to hospital. 

The man was infected near Milan where he attended an event on February 15, federal health office chief Pascal Strupler told reporters. 

‘His state of health is good,’ the health office said in a statement, adding that the risk of contagion for Switzerland as a whole remained only ‘moderate’.

But it also said that, because of the proximity to Italy, ‘the probability is growing that other cases will be diagnosed’. 

Worldwide, more than 80,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus and more than 2,700 have died. Numbers continued to rise across Europe this week 

Illness forces Pope Francis to cancel event 

Pope Francis cancelled an event in Rome today after feeling ill, the Vatican said. 

There was no word from the Vatican about the nature of his illness, except to say that he was staying in his residence because of a ‘slight indisposition’. 

The pope had been seen coughing and blowing his nose during the Ash Wednesday Mass yesterday, with some clergymen seeming reluctant to kiss his ring or embrace him. 

The 83-year-old pontiff had shaken hands with worshippers in St Peter’s Square yesterday as he voiced his sympathy with coronavirus victims. 

Francis is in generally good health and has undertaken a series of gruelling foreign trips in his seven years as leader of the Catholic Church.

He lost part of one lung as a young man because of a respiratory illness.  

Francis had been scheduled to go to the St John Lateran basilica across town to meet with Rome clergy. 

Rome had three cases of coronavirus, with most Italian patients falling ill in the north of the country.  

The government said on Monday that it had stepped up testing on patients with flu-like symptoms and was working to raise awareness at all border points.  

Romania reported its first case on Wednesday – a man who was in contact with an Italian who visited the country last week.

North Macedonia had its first case yesterday, after a woman who had returned from a month in Italy was found to be infected with the virus.  

In Greece, Athens announced its first infection on Wednesday, a woman aged 38 who had recently returned from northern Italy. 

The Greek government said that in the event of a mass outbreak, it would activate temporary restrictions on travel to and from countries with a large number of infections as well as temporarily close schools, places of worship, cinemas, theatres, sports halls and businesses. 

Estonia also confirmed its first case today, although that was believed to be linked to Iran – another coronavirus hotspot – rather than Italy.  

Local media said the man arrived in Tallinn by bus from the Latvian capital Riga.

‘For now, there are no plans of putting cities in quarantine following this one case,’ social affairs minister Tanel Kiik told public broadcaster ERR. 

Similarly, Norway’s first virus patient, whose diagnosis was confirmed on Wednesday, had recently travelled from China rather than Italy.   

This graph shows how new cases outside China have been outpacing those inside China in recent days as the virus outbreak spreads worldwide

This graph shows how new cases outside China have been outpacing those inside China in recent days as the virus outbreak spreads worldwide 

A man stands on the balcony of the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife, where Spanish authorities have ordered a two-week quarantine

A man stands on the balcony of the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife, where Spanish authorities have ordered a two-week quarantine 

Shoppers wearing masks at a supermarket in Codogno

A customer wearing a mask pushes a trolley in Codogno today

Shoppers wearing masks buy goods at a supermarket today in Codogno, one of the Italian towns which has been locked down to contain the outbreak 

Protection: Passengers on Milan's metro wear masks in the carriage yesterday with northern Italy at the centre of Europe's coronavirus outbreak

Protection: Passengers on Milan’s metro wear masks in the carriage yesterday with northern Italy at the centre of Europe’s coronavirus outbreak 

Italian football fans wear masks during a Champions League match in France last night, where French side Lyon played Turin team Juventus

Italian football fans wear masks during a Champions League match in France last night, where French side Lyon played Turin team Juventus 

An empty freezer drawer at a supermarket in Romania, which confirmed its first case on Wednesday - a man who was in contact with an Italian who visited the country last week

An empty freezer drawer at a supermarket in Romania, which confirmed its first case on Wednesday – a man who was in contact with an Italian who visited the country last week

Israel warns its citizens to avoid ALL international travel 

Israel has urged its citizens to reconsider any foreign travel at all in order to contain the coronavirus outbreak. 

The warning from Israel’s health ministry is the strictest advice that any country has yet issued about international travel. 

Israelis should avoid international conferences and ‘consider the necessity of travelling abroad in general’, the ministry said.  

‘The assessment is that there is a high probability the disease has already spread to other regions of Europe and many other places in the world,’ officials said.

The ministry had already instructed Israelis returning from Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Thailand and South Korea to go into isolation at home for 14 days.  

Israel has reported two infections of the coronavirus so far, both involving passengers who had been on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan. 

Others are in quarantine, including those who encountered a group of South Korean pilgrims who visited Israel earlier this month and were later found to have the virus.   

Italy has confirmed more than 400 cases of the virus with the death toll now at 12 and 50,000 people living under an armed lockdown in northern towns. 

EU leaders have rejected calls to shut down border crossings but a number of countries have said people may need to isolate themselves if they return from Italy. 

Poland has ordered all passengers returning from Italy and China to be medically tested while Israel, in an unprecedented move, has urged its citizens to reconsider any foreign travel at all.  

In Spain, hundreds of tourists are beginning a two-week quarantine at a Tenerife hotel after an Italian doctor brought the virus to the complex. 

The doctor, his wife and two more Italians who travelled with them tested positive for the virus after staying at the Canary Islands resort.  

Five other cases have been detected in mainland Spain in the last 24 hours – one in the Valencia region, two in the Madrid region and another two in Catalonia.  

One was a a 22-year-old Spanish man who recently returned from Milan and who tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday, local health authorities said.  

Spain on Wednesday issued assurances that a cluster of new coronavirus infections did not risk a broader spread, after ten cases were detected since Monday evening.

Spanish health minister Salvador Illa has advised people not to travel to northern Italy and other global hotspots for the disease such as Wuhan in China, South Korea, Japan and Iran.  

Quarantine in Spain: Two hotel guests wearing masks wave from the window of the Tenerife resort yesterday where holidaymakers will have to stay put for 14 days

Quarantine in Spain: Two hotel guests wearing masks wave from the window of the Tenerife resort yesterday where holidaymakers will have to stay put for 14 days 

Passengers wearing masks leave a plane at a Warsaw airport early this morning after arriving from Milan and being ordered into medical controls by Polish authorities

Passengers wearing masks leave a plane at a Warsaw airport early this morning after arriving from Milan and being ordered into medical controls by Polish authorities 

In Poland, a health worker wears a surgical mask before passengers from Milan arrive at Krakow International Airport on Wednesday evening

In Poland, a health worker wears a surgical mask before passengers from Milan arrive at Krakow International Airport on Wednesday evening 

A health worker screens the temperature of a passenger who had arrived in Krakow after flying from Milan Bergamo last night

A health worker screens the temperature of a passenger who had arrived in Krakow after flying from Milan Bergamo last night 

Hospital workers walk outside the Creil hospital in Paris yesterday after the first French national died of coronavirus, having not travelled to an outbreak hotspot

Hospital workers walk outside the Creil hospital in Paris yesterday after the first French national died of coronavirus, having not travelled to an outbreak hotspot 

French president Emmanuel Macron meets medical staff at the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris this morning

French president Emmanuel Macron meets medical staff at the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris this morning 

People wearing masks walk in front of the closed Duomo cathedral as they cross a mostly deserted square in Milan

People wearing masks walk in front of the closed Duomo cathedral as they cross a mostly deserted square in Milan 

An Italian sanitation worker cleans a Venice water bus yesterday, with the province of Veneto one of the worst-affected regions of Italy

An Italian sanitation worker cleans a Venice water bus yesterday, with the province of Veneto one of the worst-affected regions of Italy 

Guest at quarantined Tenerife hotel fears repeat of Diamond Princess chaos

A ‘frightened’ British mother trapped in a coronavirus-stricken Tenerife hotel said today that guests are ignoring quarantine rules and she fears it could become another Diamond Princess cruise ship disaster. 

Lara Pennington, who is on holiday with her two young sons and elderly in-laws, said guests at the Costa Adeje Palace hotel are failing to follow measures to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.  

‘The Spanish government were advising that if we wanted to we could leave our rooms as long as we were wearing masks and washing hands,’ she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain. 

‘It’s clearly apparent there are large numbers who are not following that process.

‘Containment strategy is clearly not working, it was never going to work.’

‘It should be an enforced quarantine,’ the 45-year-old from Manchester added. 

‘I feel there are lessons that should have been learned from the cruise ship [Diamond Princess].’

Hundreds of people were infected on the cruise ship during a two-week lockdown in Japan, with the quarantine measures widely declared a failure. 

Several countries eventually lost patience with Japan and airlifted their citizens home from the ship.  

In Germany, a passenger train was held up for around two hours in the town of Idar-Oberstein yesterday. 

A middle-aged man who had recently been in Italy on business was wearing a mask and showing possible virus symptoms – sparking alarm on board the train. 

The man was eventually taken to hospital for tests, the results of which are due back today, while other passengers continued their journeys, German media said. 

Germany has confirmed 21 cases, after a 47-year-old man with the virus was taken to hospital in serious condition in Düsseldorf and his wife also tested positive. 

Officials said the infected man was from Gangelt, near the Dutch border, and that he had been in contact with countless people in recent days, including during Carnival parties and while visiting a Cologne hospital for an unrelated health checkup. 

At least eight schools in the UK have closed while others have sent pupils home amid fears they may have been exposed to coronavirus during trips to northern Italy.

However, Public Health England (PHE) said that its general advice is not to close schools – a message echoed by health secretary Matt Hancock.

The closures come after travellers returning to the UK from northern Italy were told they may need to self-isolate as part of measures to stop the spread of illness. 

In London, energy firm Chevron asked about 300 British employees to work temporarily from home after an employee in its Canary Wharf office reported a flu-like illness. 

Passengers wearing masks drag their luggage through the arrivals hall at Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel, which has advised people to reconsider any foreign travel

Passengers wearing masks drag their luggage through the arrivals hall at Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel, which has advised people to reconsider any foreign travel 

The scene at Idar-Oberstein station in Germany yesterday where emergency crews descended on a train where a passenger had reported possible virus symptoms

The scene at Idar-Oberstein station in Germany yesterday where emergency crews descended on a train where a passenger had reported possible virus symptoms 

Milan metro passengers wearing masks yesterday, with more than 400 coronavirus cases now confirmed in Italy

Milan metro passengers wearing masks yesterday, with more than 400 coronavirus cases now confirmed in Italy 

France has so far registered 18 infections and two deaths, and has urged its nationals to delay any plans to visit virus hotspots in northern Italy.  

Students returning from China, Singapore, South Korea and the Italian regions of Lombardy and Venice are being asked to remain at home for two weeks after their return. 

In Italy there are fears of excessive panic with psychiatrists saying there have been concerning signs in some aspects of public behaviour.

Rome-based psychiatrist Rossella Candela points to the empty shelves in supermarkets due to panic buying as one example.

‘Certain people adapt. But others react as if they were under bombardment in the Second World War,’ she said.

The rush to buy face masks – which have now all but sold out in pharmacies in the country’s north – is part of the phenomenon, she says.  

While authorities are trying to reassure the population, it’s difficult to combat fear when one is confronted by ‘something intangible, invisible, like a virus,’ says psychologist Gabriele Zanardi in Pavia to the south of Milan.

He says that the most worried seem to be outside the areas most heavily affected, as they haven’t experienced the reality of the outbreak.

As a result of the invisible nature of the condition, ‘people try to put a face to this invisible enemy, be it a Chinese person, someone with a cold,’ Zanardi says.

Milan’s Chinatown has been deserted for three days.

In a region governed by former interior minister Matteo Salvini’s far-right League, many Chinatown business owners have avoided ostracisation by closing shops and restaurants.

In Turin, after the first death from the outbreak was announced, a 40-year-old Chinese woman was attacked in the street by strangers who shouted: ‘You have the virus, go away or I’ll kill you.’ 



Why you should be talking to your kids about coronavirus, expert reveals

Someone who is infected with the coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say.

Nearly 3,000 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and more than 80,000 have been infected. Here’s what we know so far:

What is the coronavirus? 

A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.

The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.

Experts say the bug, which has killed around one in 50 patients since the outbreak began in December, is a ‘sister’ of the SARS illness which hit China in 2002, so has been named after it.

The disease that the virus causes has been named COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.

Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals. 

‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses). 

‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’ 

The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started publicly reporting infections on December 31.

By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.

The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 7,000.

Just a week after that, there had been more than 800 confirmed cases and those same scientists estimated that some 4,000 – possibly 9,700 – were infected in Wuhan alone. By that point, 26 people had died. 

By January 27, more than 2,800 people were confirmed to have been infected, 81 had died, and estimates of the total number of cases ranged from 100,000 to 350,000 in Wuhan alone.

By January 29, the number of deaths had risen to 132 and cases were in excess of 6,000.  

By February 5, there were more than 24,000 cases and 492 deaths.

By February 11, this had risen to more than 43,000 cases and 1,000 deaths. 

A change in the way cases are confirmed on February 13 – doctors decided to start using lung scans as a formal diagnosis, as well as laboratory tests – caused a spike in the number of cases, to more than 60,000 and to 1,369 deaths.

By February 25, around 80,000 people had been infected and some 2,700 had died. February 25 was the first day in the outbreak when fewer cases were diagnosed within China than in the rest of the world. 

Where does the virus come from?

According to scientists, the virus almost certainly came from bats. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.

The first cases of COVID-19 came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in Wuhan, which has since been closed down for investigation.

Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat. 

A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published in February 2020 in the scientific journal Nature, found that the genetic make-up virus samples found in patients in China is 96 per cent identical to a coronavirus they found in bats.

However, there were not many bats at the market so scientists say it was likely there was an animal which acted as a middle-man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.

Dr Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, was not involved with the research but said: ‘The discovery definitely places the origin of nCoV in bats in China.

‘We still do not know whether another species served as an intermediate host to amplify the virus, and possibly even to bring it to the market, nor what species that host might have been.’  

So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it? 

Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.

It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs. It is less deadly than SARS, however, which killed around one in 10 people, compared to approximately one in 50 for COVID-19.

Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.

Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.

‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’

If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die. 

‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.

‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’

How does the virus spread?

The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.

It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky. 

Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.

There is now evidence that it can spread third hand – to someone from a person who caught it from another person.

What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?

Once someone has caught the COVID-19 virus it may take between two and 14 days, or even longer, for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.

If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients will recover from these without any issues, and many will need no medical help at all.

In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.

Figures are showing that young children do not seem to be particularly badly affected by the virus, which they say is peculiar considering their susceptibility to flu, but it is not clear why. 

What have genetic tests revealed about the virus? 

Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world. 

This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.   

Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.

However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.

This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.   

More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.

How dangerous is the virus?  

The virus has a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.

Experts have been conflicted since the beginning of the outbreak about whether the true number of people who are infected is significantly higher than the official numbers of recorded cases. Some people are expected to have such mild symptoms that they never even realise they are ill unless they’re tested, so only the more serious cases get discovered, making the death toll seem higher than it really is.

However, an investigation into government surveillance in China said it had found no reason to believe this was true.

Dr Bruce Aylward, a World Health Organization official who went on a mission to China, said there was no evidence that figures were only showing the tip of the iceberg, and said recording appeared to be accurate, Stat News reported.

Can the virus be cured? 

The COVID-19 virus cannot be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.

Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.

No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.

The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.

Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.

People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.

And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).

However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.

Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?   

The outbreak is an epidemic, which is when a disease takes hold of one community such as a country or region. 

Although it has spread to dozens of countries, the outbreak is not yet classed as a pandemic, which is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.

The head of WHO’s global infectious hazard preparedness, Dr Sylvie Briand, said: ‘Currently we are not in a pandemic. We are at the phase where it is an epidemic with multiple foci, and we try to extinguish the transmission in each of these foci,’ the Guardian reported.

She said that most cases outside of Hubei had been ‘spillover’ from the epicentre, so the disease wasn’t actually spreading actively around the world.